The 1993 Leasehold Reform Housing and Urban Development Act (as amended) gives a flat owner the right to extend their lease so long as they have owned the flat for at least two years.
The Act lays down the following procedure for lease extensions.
i) The flat owner serves an initial notice on the landlord stating what the flat comprises, details of the lease and the price offered.
ii) Within two months, the landlord is required to serve a counter notice acknowledging the flat owner’s right to a lease extension.
iii) If there is a dispute over the price, the flat owner then has six months to apply to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (LVT), which will determine a fair price.
iv) Once the price has been agreed, a variation to the lease is dealt with by solicitors
Within the six months mentioned in (iii), the first two months are set aside as a cooling off period designed to get the valuers for both parties together to see if an agreement on price can be reached. Around 90% of the time, a compromise can be reached.
Extending the lease will normally cause the flat's value to increase, as there will now be a long lease with no ground rent payable. The secret of success is getting the procedure right: if a bad notice is served or the time constraints are not complied with, then the flat owner is barred from taking further action for another 12 months.